Remember when New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner held a press conference early on in the 2021 season placing a majority of the blame on the players for the team’s lack of success?
Though he wasn’t necessarily wrong, there was something else rotten with this team that very much limped to a 92-win season, which was a massive underachievement given the star power up and down the roster.
How did the Rays, who got worse, win 100 games and win the division? How did the Blue Jays expedite their rebuild to the point where they missed the postseason by one game? How did the Red Sox make an ALCS run despite having an objectively worse roster than those two teams AND the Yankees?
See what we’re saying? Something was wrong with the Yankees. They still couldn’t quite get on track after importing multiple big names and productive players before the trade deadline. In the end, there was no other choice than to make coaching changes after the offense finished among the the bottom half of the league in more categories you could stomach.
After all, you can’t fire players. You can’t trade them if they’re coming off poor seasons. Even if they were to blame, there wasn’t much general manager Brian Cashman could do.
DJ LeMahieu took notice of that and acknowledged that it was tough seeing the Yankees’ hitting coaches not have their contracts renewed. His sympathy also kind of insinuates that the lackluster output was mostly on the players, right? That’s what it sounds like.
Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu is upset about the coaching turnover.
Here’s what LeMahieu told the New York Daily News (subscription required) in a recent interview:
"“I don’t really want to talk about last year. I just want to get on with this year.“We didn’t play up to our capabilities, it’s that simple. It wasn’t their fault by any means. It’s not on them. They were the guys that helped us get to where we were the previous few years.“I am just glad they landed on their feet.“I had a great relationship with Marcus and P.J. I was disappointed to see them go.”"
Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, by far, were the only two consistent sources of offense for the entirety of the season, and Stanton wasn’t even playing well during the first half. An electric second half made him look like a god, so it was really Judge as the only force providing such output from beginning to end.
Then again, maybe if Steinbrenner were willing to spend more along the margins, this wouldn’t have been as much of an issue. Another thing to think about … but nobody was expecting as many inexplicable regressions as we witnessed all at once (plus injuries, of course).
Will 2022 present a renewed energy and approach for the Yankees? Will Judge be even more motivated by either not receiving an extension or finally getting one plus the captain label? Will the proper production from LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, Joey Gallo, Gio Urshela and Gary Sánchez show up in the end-of-season stats? Will the Yankees “hit strikes hard” and “out of the infield”?
For the love of god, we sure hope so.